I recently read a book based around the issue of ’What if various great moments in history had turned out the other way - rather differently’. You know...

What if the Roman’s hadn’t bothered with Britain?
What if the Confederates had won at Gettysburg in 1863?
What if Britain had lost the Battle of Britain and we’d been invaded in 1940?
What if D-Day had been a failure in 1944?
What if Kennedy had not been killed in 1963... get the drift?

It got me thinking... What if various moments in our history had turned out a bit different? So I popped into my time machine and sped back to around when I was born and... well would you believe what happened......

I was born in 1956. Three years after the infamous ’Matthews Final. You know the one that they still talk about. Remember, Everton gave one of the greatest semi-final come backs that year when 0-4 down against Bolton we came back to win 5-4 and go on to play Blackpool at Wembley our first final appearance since 1933! After a tight-fought first half, honours were even until the second half started and then things hotted up. After 20 minutes, it was 2-2 and then in the final moment of the game Everton went 3-2 up. Surely there was no more time left but a big punt up from the back had Everton all over the place and from the half-way line Blackpool winger Matthews was clean through with only keeper O’Neil to beat. The irish keeper made the decision to come out almost half-way into the Everton half but Matthews chipped the ball over his head and was on to an open goal the empty net in front of him. However Stanley decided to walk the ball into the net. From 4 yards out he somehow slipped... clipped the ball with his Top Dog Continental book and... it rolled an inch wide. The whistle went and Everton had somehow survived to win the cup whilst the crestfallen Matthews lay in tears on the famous turf!!

The ’60s brought a League Championship under the stewardship of Harry Catterick. Previous manager Johnny Carey had been charged by Chairman John Moores to develop a blueprint to make Everton THE European club by the end of the decade. He was to scour the country and afar for the best talent available and Mr Moores would see to the bill. With a creative midfield of Tony Kay and Bobby Collins, the blues bossed any time with both brawn and flair and this made for a retention of the title in the 1963-64 season despite a late showing by neighbours Liverpool. During the close season, Catterick strengthened his side with one key signing... Leicester keeper Gordon Banks, who Mr Moores sanctioned the signing of. Also, in the summer, an announcement was made that would shock Everton fans with amazement.

It was announced that Fifa and the Football Association had decided that Goodison Park would be a top venue for the World Cup finals in 2 years time. However whilst this excited fans a bigger shock was also announced... Everton would be leaving the ground to take up a new Goodison Park by the start of the 1969 -70 season. Mr Moores explained to the press at a packed press conference.

"Whilst it is considered that Goodison Park is a fabulous venue, we are a forward thinking and looking club and what may be seen as ’Top Notch’ by Fifa certainly doesn’t have to be ’Top Notch’ by us... we have higher visions than Fifa. Here he laid out the plans. Construction would commence in May 1967 at a new site in Bootle. The club had bought a massive site off Dunningsbridge Road. They had acquired the site of the English Electric factory, some allotment spaces, the Orrell Pleasure football pitches, and negotiated the redevelopment of a disused railway line so fans could be brought in by train adjacent to the ground or by the soon-to-be-constructed M57 nearby. Mr Moores added, "It will be a 100,000-seater ground. None of this terracing stuff. There will be hotels, leisure facilities, restaurants... cinemas showing new releases and adult continental films for fans. Everything will be there for the most important commodity... the Everton fan. No expense will be spared on or off the pitch. There will be no caged ’boys pen’ either. I have recently received proof of these types of places as seriously damaging to young boys as a result of them going in there. Only last week, Harry took some of the lads to a secure unit where one such lad is under watch and dreaming strange dreams about wandering the streets of London with Elvis Presley and taking over from me. Everton has a responsibility to the fans and we will see to it."

Everton went on to win the FA Cup in May 1966 beating Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 at Wembley. That summer, they boasted of having Banks, Kay, Labone, Wilson and new purchase Alan Ball in the World Cup-winning side... 5 World Cup Winners!!!

Before the final, so-called bitter red, Tommy ’Anfield Iron’ Smith had bad-mouthed the Blues in the national press. The result confirmed he was as was now titled ’Talking Red Shite’. That night, Everton were the talk of the city centre as the slow trains steamed back to town with Blues fans. London Road was a sea of Blue and White.

At the Odeon Theatre, Bob Dylan was performing and he even got into the act. As the curtain opened for the second half of the show, behind him and The Hawks was a massive Everton crest as a backdrop. During ’Ballad Of A Thin Man’, Dylan changed the words to ’You know something is happening but you don’t know what it is... Do you, Mr Smith?’ to the crowd’s roar. They wouldn’t let him off stage that night and demanded an encore. For the only time on the tour, Dylan came out solo to perform an epic 8-minute version of a song that would remain unreleased for another 9 years called... ’Tangled Up In Blue’.

Everton retained the cup a further two times in 1968 v West Brom and the following year in 1969 by beating relegated Leicester City at Wembley. The new ground was on schedule for the start of the 69-70 season when Mr Moores once more pulled off a media shock that would focus Everton FC and the new Goodison across the world.

After refusing to break a 3-year silence and refuse to appear at America’s Woodstock Festival, Bob Dylan was lured out of seclusion to perform his exclusive comeback at Goodison Park in July 1969. The world’s media descended on Merseyside and there was another twist at the end of Dylan’s 2-hour show ... when unannounced three of the Beatles came on to do another hour with Dylan and The Band. In a press conference the following day, John Lennon explained:

"We decided it was too good a chance to miss. We decided we had to come out with it... y’ know... open out that The Beatles were Blues. Liverpool have Cilla and Tarby and the like but Everton deserve better and they have us. George isn’t that arsed about football and is in India and Ringo does what he’s told. But Paul had the biggest decision to make... be at the hospital with Linda for the baby’s birth or be at Goodison Park with Bob. He knew what to do."

McCartney explained further: "Linda had to accept it. She was in good hands but I had to do this gig. The chance to play what could well be our last gig at Everton had to happen. I’ve been gutted since I was at Wembley in ’68 that we weren’t able to do an Everton gig, so Bob’s show was perfect."

Everton opened the new season and new ground with a Championship-winning season in true style. But the following year, a start of even greater things commenced with the retention of the Championship and the winning of the European Cup at Wembley with a 2-0 win over Ajax. But not before a semi-final win v Liverpool, where Alan Ball scored the winner, and a 1-0 win over Arsenal in the FA Cup Final.

Season 71-72 saw the retention again of the Championship and European Cup before a lull in proceedings for a brief period.

Harry Catterick had been looking to rebrand Everton in the media. As he was an absolute media natural; Harry saw the opportunity of launching a worldwide Everton TV channel to bring young boys all over the world a visual knowledge of all things Everton. He explained:

"Lads of early teen years are the future fans of the club. Frankly there isn’t enough Everton on TV and this needs to change. Mr Moores is behind me on this. They read their ’Look In’ mag... watch cartoons like ’Roger The Cabin Boy & Seaman Staines’... read ’War Picture Weekly’ but I want then watching Everton TV and be educated.

"I will be handing over the mantle of first team affairs to Bobby Robson for the 73-74 season. Bobby has a wide knowledge of European football players and has secured links with coaching schools in Denmark via the famed ex-international Otto Lurpak Soccer Colleges and already has identified top young talent from afar."

The ’70s would continue to be dominated by Everton. A first League Cup win was secured in 1977 following Robson’s first title triumph in 1975. A 1978 European Cup win and a further title in the same year brought an incredible end to the decade.

The time machine will return after some cooling down and minor repairs to look at the 1980s where more triumphs await including a World Club Championship win in India... Howard Kendall taking over the England job to win Italia ’90. And Colin Harvey becoming the most successful manager ever. Rejoin the Blue Time Machine for ’Everton In The ’80s Magical Times!!!!

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Reader Comments (15)

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Gavin Ramejkis
1 Posted 07/12/2013 at 16:48:54
A very amusing read and some classics, you have a lot of time on your hands
Derek Thomas
3 Posted 07/12/2013 at 22:13:57
Or: shorter alternate version of the alternate version; We appoint Shankly instead of Carey...no rs revival, on we go to glory, sorted.

Tip; for a better version google a guy called Rolant Eliss

Paul Ferry
4 Posted 07/12/2013 at 23:37:57
Crikey what is this all about ...........
Tony Draper
5 Posted 08/12/2013 at 06:49:43

I prefer the real thing
This smacks of red-ism

.....we do not choose....

Kevin Crean
6 Posted 08/12/2013 at 08:35:25
Interesting stuff but just a bit nervous about the factual content, after all Banks played for Leicester City and Alan Ball was not signed by Everton until after the 1966 Cup Final, and England's successful World Cup campaign. If you remember it was Wilson, Hunt (yes, Liverpool FC) and Labone who before Charity Shield fixture ran around Goodison holding aloft the Jules Rimet, FA Cup and First Division trophies.
Colin Smith
7 Posted 08/12/2013 at 23:37:51
Superb stuff, enjoyed the Tangled Up In Blue line. Anything bringing together Everton & Bob Dylan gets my vote.
Chris Hockenhull
8 Posted 09/12/2013 at 10:00:50
This is very much tongue in cheek for those who have/will read it. I had some time on my hands sitting waiting for some work info to come through hence I banged it off Friday morning. Typo regard Stanley Matthews..'Boots' not Books I meant. Odd though that I refered to that final as our near amazing come back v Bolton may have affected that so that was my staring point.

Kevin (549). I put the Gordon Banks name in as some time ago I trawled through the Everton Foundation minutes books which - if one can spend the time as theres a lot- there are some revealling names of potential Catterick transfer targets and lo and behold Gordon Banks was amongst them (if Im not mistaken so was Billy Bremner I think?). The fact Catterick hated the media /tv is why I put that spin on him being completely the opposite. Bobby Robson had accepted the Everton job only to be offended by Everton letting it be known publicly before he'd done what he wanted in informing the Ipswich board of him leaving personally. I was going to put the fact that Don Revie told his Leeds squad he was off to Everton too as another potential 'what if?'.

Dylan played the Isle of Wight a few weeks after the start of the 69/70 season as the event I draw from. I was only interested in one thing that weekend in 69 and it certainly wasnt what was going on on the island but more about our cracking start to the campaign. Things changed a bit a year later.

Dont take this too seriously. It's all done with a smile but glad to see some enjoyed it so far

Colin Glassar
9 Posted 10/12/2013 at 11:29:04
What if we'd have kept our gobs shut and just quietly appointed Sir Bobby Robson? A major 'what if?' moment in our history.
Dennis Stevens
10 Posted 10/12/2013 at 11:38:33
Apparently Robson's former players at Ipswich Town felt they should have achieved much more than they did but Robson was always paranoid about the strengths of the opposition rather than feeling positive about his own team, consequently the players were often nervous & edgy going into matches even though they had the quality to hold their own against anybody in the league. Mind you, they could play when they got going.

I also recall Robson's tenure as England coach being somewhat up & down to say the least. It seemed that many of the necessary changes he made only happened by default, such as when enforced by injuries, etc. If I remember correctly Brian Glanville used to refer to him as the "somnambulist", due to his ability to seemingly sleepwalk through the role of England manager.

How about this what if : What if, before the Liverpool Board finally called Shankley's bluff & accepted one of his resignations, our Board had fucked their succession plans & head-hunted the man who went on to be the most successful English club manager - Bob Paisley??

Colin Glassar
11 Posted 10/12/2013 at 11:58:04
Not sure about your Robson observations Dennis. He turned a team of country bumpkins into one of the best teams I've ever had the pleasure to see. With players like Mills, Talbot, Mariner, Wark, the two Dutch lads he brought over (groundbreaking at the time) they played some delightful football and were always challenging for honours.
Alongside Clough, Robson was, in my opinion, the best English manager of all time.
Gerry Quinn
12 Posted 10/12/2013 at 12:15:43
How about if we had paid the rent increase at Anfield? Oh, I wish I could go back in time and pay it for them!
Ray Roche
13 Posted 10/12/2013 at 12:21:27
Colin, the beef I have with Robson is that, despite his background, he couldn't be arsed to come and watch Everton's great 1980's side in the flesh until the November 1985, prior to the WC starting the following summer, despite the fact that we were the current Champions, and then only because we were at Ipswich. I remember the press having a field day over his reluctance to venture north in a season when we finished 2nd and the RS 1st. If you remember, it was only due to injuries to his bum chums and a red card to Wilkins that he eventually brought in Reid, Steven, Stevens to join Lineker in the team.
Dennis Stevens
14 Posted 10/12/2013 at 16:11:45
Is that a wind-up, Colin? Better than Chapman, Nicholson, Catterick, Revie, Kendall, Paisley, Mercer or Ramsay - who did better with that team of country bumpkins & also managed to win the world cup. Robson was a good manager but the myth of his genius seems to be something that developed during the '90's when he was managing successfully abroad. When he returned to manage Newcastle United towards the end of the decade the acclaim he received upon his return would have been more appropriate if he'd actually won the world cup whilst England coach.

I don't know how successful Robson would have been in the '70's at Everton, I'm sure he would have done a decent job, but I don't feel a great opportunity was missed . Now if our Board had the vision as Arsenal's in the '20's & got Herbert Chapman from Huddersfield Town - that would be an interesting 'what if' scenario.

Domino Darkley
15 Posted 13/12/2013 at 00:35:56
Early '83 at Oxford in the League Cup.

Kevin Brock kicks for touch instead of setting up Inchy Heath for an equalising goal.

Howard is sacked the next day.

Sir Philip Carter looks to Aberdeen and signs up a young, aspiring manager whom had broken the Celtic/Rangers monopoly in Scotland.

David Hallwood
16 Posted 13/12/2013 at 01:00:48
Had me going there Chris; I didn't know we went in for Gordon Banks!
I'm sure that Robson turned us down not once but twice. Now that would've been a what if.

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